What to Expect
A diagnosis is made through a very detailed history and examination which includes some features like pulse and tongue diagnosis which are unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Once the pattern of energy disruption is identified, acupuncture points are chosen to restore harmony. Very thin acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points in the body to achieve the desired effect. There is a sensation associated with the insertion of the needle that is unique to acupuncture; it is not painful, it creates a heaviness or warmth that indicates that correct nervous system stimulation has been accessed. After anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes the needles are removed.
Acupuncture has been used in Egypt, Persia, India, Tibet and China for over 2000 years. Most Americans were introduced to acupuncture when President Nixon visited China in 1972. An American reporter, James Reston, developed a case of acute appendicitis while traveling with the President. He had an emergency appendectomy with post-operative acupuncture for pain control. He was so impressed with the pain relief that he wrote about acupuncture upon his return to the United States.
In 1997 the U.S. National Institute of Health recognized acupuncture as a mainstream medicine healing option. The National Institute of Health has a division known as the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine that conducts and supports research on a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine, examples of which include acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a science that recognizes energy known as Qi coursing through the body in specific patterns known as meridians. Traditional Chinese Medicine explains that disruptions in the flow of this energy can create disease. Correcting the healthy flow of Qi corrects the imbalances and can cure disease. Sometimes diet modifications and herbal supplementation are needed to achieve the desired balance.
It is unlikely that we will ever discover Qi as an entity under a microscope or a substance in a blood panel. It is a description of a combination of factors which includes blood flow, innervation, interstitial fluid movement, communication between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system and vice versa, communication between organs, hormone levels, cellular signaling and much more. We know that acupuncture works and we are researching how. Acupuncture is a practice which is ahead of the research.
ACUPUNCTURE AND CHEMOTHERAPY
Acupuncture, although not potent enough to act as a first line cancer treatment, is very effective in supporting conventional cancer therapy, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Acupuncture can significantly reduce the nausea that often accompanies chemotherapy. Notably, acupuncture can play a significant role in alleviating some side effects of chemotherapy, such as a drop in white blood cell, red blood cell and platelet counts. Acupuncture can assist the body in rapidly replacing the affected cells. Acupuncture can also significantly reduce the pain associated with surgery and alleviate depression and anxiety.